“Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”
I think there is today a negative connotation associated with the word “meek.” I’d say that most of the time, when we use “meek” to describe someone, we usually mean to say that they have no courage, that they are, as one dictionary definition says, “overly submissive, spiritless, tame.” But when Charles Wesley wrote the beloved hymn “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild,” I don’t think the great psalmist had in mind that Jesus was without spirit, nor that our Savior was “overly submissive.” Gentle, yes, and kind, and definitely humble. But Jesus “spiritless”? I think not.
I think Mr. Wesley had a different thing in mind, a “meekness” that came from compassion and proper submission, not from spiritlessness or shyness. On the contrary, Jesus’ meekness was a powerful humility. “Powerful humility” may sound like an oxymoron, but you’ll see it is not when you consider this passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
Philippians 2:5-7 (NASB)
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
But the key to this whole “meekness” thing is in verse 8:
Philippians 2:8 (NASB)
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus emptied Himself of His rightful power and glory to live among us, and thereby brought salvation to all of us. Jesus humbled Himself and submitted to God’s will and yet, because He was full of God’s Holy Spirit, He was powerful in word and deed. Jesus was gentle, meek and mild, but He was also righteous, powerful, and equipped for God’s work.
If we are to be like Jesus and be meek like Him, then we have to surrender all the power we think we have in this world, give up our worldly treasures, and humble ourselves before God. When we empty ourselves of our pride and self-righteousness, then we become open to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and we can assume the very power and righteousness of God. Look at this passage from James’ letter:
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Look at verse 7 again: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from YOU.” Why would the devil flee from a lowly sinner like you or me? Because in submitting to God, in humbling ourselves in the sight of the Lord, we assume the likeness and authority of God’s Son, Christ Jesus. When we humble ourselves through fasting and prayer, we take on the power of the Savior to drive evil from around us. When we are “meek and mild” like the One who gave His life on the Cross, we are washed in His Blood, purified by His sacrifice, and we are able to do “greater works than these” in His name. (John 14:12) As Jesus tells us many times in the Gospels, when we place ourselves last, putting God’s will first in our lives, then in His kingdom we shall be first. We shall inherit the New Jerusalem and the New Earth that will come when Jesus returns. That is the inheritance of Jesus’ “meek” brothers and sisters.
So let us join Mr. Wesley in singing our prayer:
Let me, above all, fulfill
God my heav’nly Father’s will;
Never His good Spirit grieve;
Only to His glory live.
Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb,
In Thy gracious hands I am;
Make me, Savior, what Thou art,
Live Thyself within my heart.
Amen and amen.
© 2009 Glenn A. Pettit